Microsoft Releases Lync API for SDN

We write a fair amount on No Jitter about Software Defined Networks (SDNs); mostly, Terry Slattery of Chesapeake Netcraftsmen is our go-to guy on SDN. In fact, Terry's going to be leading a workshop on SDN at Enterprise Connect Orlando 2014 next March.

SDN is an exciting development for IP networking and datacenters, but you might not necessarily see the connection with communications. And yet, that connection could well be a major element of the next generation of enterprise communications.

At a high level, it's actually fairly simple: SDN abstracts the control of lower-layer switching/routing decisions into a dedicated controller (which can be software running on a virtual server). Since traffic-handling decisions are now made at this higher level, it makes sense that any application that can talk to the SDN controller can tell the network what type of performance it needs in order to do its job in the way that the enterprise requires.

Microsoft and HP have already demonstrated this capability between HP SDN controllers and the Lync server; and today Microsoft announced that it has released a Lync API that will allow any SDN controller to communicate with Lync in order to invoke this kind of policy control.

In the Lync blog making the announcement, Jamie Stark of Microsoft cites three specific use cases where this functionality can be beneficial:

* Diagnostics. By using the data from the API, network monitoring systems can then correlate between media flows in Lync and activities in the network that may have an impact on quality.

* Automatically provisioning Quality of Service (QoS). When the controller gets information about a media flow starting up, it can instruct the network to assign the appropriate marking to those packets in real time.

* Orchestration. Just like it sounds, imagine all the different instruments of the network from layer one to layer seven all singing along in harmony.

* Automatically provisioning Quality of Service (QoS). When the controller gets information about a media flow starting up, it can instruct the network to assign the appropriate marking to those packets in real time.

* Orchestration. Just like it sounds, imagine all the different instruments of the network from layer one to layer seven all singing along in harmony.

SDN is still an emerging technology for the enterprise, so this may not be something that you will be implementing in the next 12 months. But if you're a communications technologist, it would probably make sense to familiarize yourself with your enterprise IT's plan for implementing SDN, and to talk with all your communications vendors about their perspective on the importance of integrating communications servers with SDN controllers.

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